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The Destruction Within

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"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

Ernest Hemingway

Saturday 29th June 2013 11:26pm

“Eddie. Come out, come out wherever you are.”

A sinister voice called out playfully from outside the door as Eddie hid in the dark, in the bathtub, with the curtains drawn around him and his hands cut up and bloodied as he clutched a knife in his right hand and held his left hand over his mouth to drown out the sounds of his crying as to not alert anyone to where he was.

“Eddie…”

The voice called out again, approaching the door and trying the handle to get inside as Eddie jumped back. Holding the knife out in front of him with both hands so tightly that his hands and arms started shaking, his eyes widening as fear took over him and he begun to hyperventilate as he listened to the door handle turning back and forth over and over again.

Present Day

Eddie stood on the grass at the side of the road, staring at the ‘Thank you for visiting Erinsborough’ council sign, his motorcycle parked next to him and rubbing the back of his neck with both hands as he contemplated whether to keep going or turn back now. For years, he’d thought about the different ways he could come back into Leo’s life. Sending him a card, a letter that explained what happened and letting him know he was okay; coming back and talking everything through or even calling him but he stopped himself every time. He knew Leo well enough to know he’d start looking for him or want him to stick around and that would have been a mistake. It wasn’t in his or Leo’s best interest for him to get involved in his life again so he stayed away. But everything was different now and it all changed the moment he saw that photo. When he realised what had really happened all those years ago and what had happened in Erinsborough now. It wasn’t going to be easy, walking back into Leo’s life again after all this time and was probably going to cause more problems for them, both personally and together. They had a lot of issues to work through but there was no time left to waste anymore.

He looked around before getting back on his bike and continuing through Erinsborough until he reached the Lassiters car park. Unzipping his black leather jacket and picking up the bag on the back of his bike as he got off and started walking through and complex and into Lassiters, stopping once he reached the front desk.

“I just don’t believe it.” A young woman with a squeaky voice said as Eddie looked up for a second before taking out his wallet and removing his license and credit card.

“Me neither.” Another woman said, she sounded older and was starting to lose her voice. “Brandon wouldn’t just disappear.”

Eddie’s head jolted up. “Disappear? What?”

He looked around to see where the voices were coming from and noticing them just out of sight, leaned in and tilted his head in order to hear more of what they were saying.

“He stole from Lassiters. He stole from Paul Robinson. You really think he would stick around?” A man asked in a New Zealand accent.

“Probably not.” The young woman replied.

“What if he didn’t… you know, disappear?” Another man asked, enunciating each syllable in disappear.

“What do you mean?”

“Cement shoes!” The man replied, nodding and the others let out a gasp and Eddie’s eyes widened in shock.

“He’s done it before like 15 years ago. He killed that guy and got away with it. What if the same thing happened to Brandon?”

“Holy shit!” Eddie stood there with his mouth open in horror.

“Oi! Back to work!” Paul appeared, yelling at each of the employees.

“Sorry.”

“Sorry, Mr. Robinson.”

“Sorry.”

They all apologised at the same time, quickly taking off in different directions as Paul approached the front desk and Eddie jumped back, looking around and biting his lip as he realised the man approaching him was very likely the Paul Robinson those employees were talking about.

“Sorry about that.” Paul smiled reassuringly.

“That’s fine.” Eddie said softly.

“How can I help you?” Paul asked.

“I have a reservation under E. Daniels.”

Eddie handed Paul his license and credit card, looking around as Paul verified the information on the computer and upon doing so, attempted to hand the cards back to Eddie before pausing. The sleeves on his jacket had rolled up, revealing numerous scars on his wrists that extended upwards on the inside of both arms. Eddie looked back at him, smiling as he noticed Paul was looking down at something, following his eyes before quickly snatching the cards out of his hands, snapping him out of it as he pulled down his sleeves and held onto them with the tips of his fingers.

“Is that all?” Eddie said coldly, while looking at Paul completely emotionless.

Paul responded softly, taking a key card out of the desk. “Yeah, here’s your room key.”

“Thanks.”

Eddie took the key, picking up his bag and walked off. Making his way up the stairs as he approached the floor he was on and headed towards his room. As he walked inside, he put his bag on the bed and then immediately walked towards the mini bar, opening it to make sure his request of the alcohol being removed from his room has been observed before closing the fridge door and walking over to the bed, unzipping it and taking out a set of clothes. Replacing the black leather jacket, pants and short sleeve t-shirt he was wearing with jeans, a skin tight black long-sleeve t-shirt that covered his hands and a light blue shirt, with the sleeves rolled up on top of it.

Walking out of his room and the hotel, he looked around the complex before heading towards The Waterhole, where he went up to the bar and ordered a lemonade, before turning around to look at the people in the room as two people who were arguing caught his attention straight away.

“That is not fair!” Sonya said loudly, through clenched teeth.

“Neither is the way she’s treating people. She’s gone too far and she just keeps getting worse, Sonya. We’ll all be copping it soon.” Shane said angrily as Sonya looked at him annoyed.  

“When you’re… you’re forced to… to confront everything you’ve been through, everything you’ve been burying… it’s… it’s just… it’s not always going to end well. People never seem to understand that. Sometimes it-it-it goes badly and sometimes it can be a cry for help.” Sonya said sadly and desperately, while trying to hold back tears as Eddie watched her concerned.

Shane rolled his eyes. “Oh, I doubt that very much.”

“DON’T!” Sonya yelled, startling Shane before taking a deep breath and trying to regain her composure. “Everyone is different. They… they cry and they scream and they bury themselves and they lash out. Sometimes they hurt themselves and sometimes they hurt other people. Asking for help is hard and not everyone knows how to do it or even realises that they need it. It’s like…” Sonya said softly as her emotions started to get the better of her. “It’s like your… your mind is rebelling against you and you are just fighting it to retake control. There is nothing nice or beautiful or simple about this – it’s ugly.”

Shane nodded and leaned forward. “I understand what you’re saying. Really, I do but this has gone so far beyond that now. Look at Leo.” He gestured in the direction of Lassiters, as Eddie’s leaned in at the mention of Leo’s name. “He’s already on edge and if she keeps going the way she has for the last month… she’s going to push him over that edge and if you’re not careful – Toad… and you are both going to go over with him, okay? That is what you should be worried about.”

“I am worried about Jarrod!” Sonya said defensively as she clenched her jaw.

“I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just… this thing with Amy… you are taking it really personally.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are and you’re not even helping. You’re just… it’s like you’re obsessing over her.” Shane said, leaning back as Sonya’s eyes widened in anger. “Let David and Paul handle this and you focus on yourself. On Toadie, on your family. Your heart’s in the right place, Sonya no one is doubting that but you need to accept that not everyone can be saved and move on.” He said softly, smiling reassuringly.

“What if everyone thought like you? Hm? What… what happens if EVERYONE just stops caring? Stops helping? Do you know how awful it is when everyone just… walks away?” Sonya started talking faster and faster as her voice gradually broke up the longer, she spoke. “I went through that and I… I did that… I won’t let Amy go through that. Not now, not when she’s in such a bad way and I don’t want her to get to the point where she hits rock bottom and-and-and gives up and it will happen. It will and she won’t know how to get back up because no one is there. I won’t… I… I… I can’t sit back and let that happen.”

Sonya broke down, crying into her hands as Shane attempted to place his hand on her shoulder to comfort her and she pushed him away angry, rubbing the tears away from her eyes.

“Sonya, has something…”

“Hi. Excuse me?” Eddie called out cheerfully, approaching Sonya and Shane and cutting Shane off mid-sentence. “Sorry to interrupt. You’re not talking about Leo Tanaka by any chance, are you?”

Shane turned to look at Eddie, shaking his head as he looked down and took a deep breath. “Yeah.”

“Wouldn’t know where I could find him, would you?”

“Lassiters, probably. He’s the manager there.”

“Are you a friend of his?” Sonya asked softly, attempting to smile as she rubbed the tears away from her eyes.

Eddie chuckled. “Something like that. We used to work together and I was passing through and thought I’d check in, see how he was.”

“Well, he could use a friend right now especially after what happened the other night.” Shane said.

Eddie’s eyes peaked with interest as he leaned in. “What happened?”

“His sister went on a rampage!” Shane turned to look at Sonya as she looked away unimpressed.

“Sister?” Eddie said, surprised before licking his lips and nodding as he tilted his head. “So, I’m guessing that means he found his father?”

“Yeah, Paul.”

“Paul Robinson?” Eddie’s eyes widened in concern, hoping for a different answer than the one he knew he was going to get.

“That’s the one.” Shane responded, uninterested.

Eddie sighed, rubbing his head. “Of course, it is.”

“Look, I’ve got to get back to work.”

Shane addressed both Eddie and Sonya before picking up the glasses on the table and walking away as Eddie edged closer to Sonya, leaning on the table.

“Sorry to just butt in.”

“No, that’s… it’s fine.” Sonya waved it off before turning to look at him. “Most people who eavesdrop don’t usually get involved though.”

“Oh, no. I wasn’t…” Eddie laughed as Sonya looked at him before talking sincerely. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah…” Sonya tried to shake it off but she started to get upset. “No. Not really. There’s just a lot on my mind at the moment.”

“With your friend? Amy, wasn’t it?” Sonya’s shoulders dropped as she looked at him and he leaned in closer to her and smiled. “Okay. Maybe I was eavesdropping a little bit.”

Sonya smiled gently through her sadness as she looked at him, shaking her head. “Among other things.”

“That’s Leo’s sister I take it.” Eddie asked.

Sonya nodded. “Yep.”

“Is it that bad?”

“You have no idea.”

“Well, it’s great that you want to help her through this.” Eddie said softly. “It’s always nice to have someone there, looking out for you and knowing that some cares can make all the difference in the world.”

“It can.” Sonya smiled gently.

Eddie’s expression turned sad and he bit the top of his lip as his gaze turned away from Sonya, partially talking to himself and her. “Just as long as you don’t push yourself too far doing it.”

“God! You’re as bad as everyone else, aren’t you?” Sonya responded harshly.

“Whoa!” Eddie leaned back, as Sonya’s words caught him by surprise. “Hang on a second. I…”

“No! No, you’re all the same.” Sonya said angrily and pushed her hands out in front of her, causing Eddie to take a step back. “It’s all ‘you’re doing the right thing’ or ‘I support you’ and then out comes how to really feel about this and that you think helping people who need it is a mistake.”

“Okay. No, that is not that was I doing at all. Helping someone who needs it is never a mistake. You’re not doing anything wrong here but…” Eddie said determined before shaking his head and looking down sadly. “It’s hard work and it can take a long time and can sometimes take its toll on you and I just think that putting yourself first always needs to be an option.”  

“If you decide to help someone, you need to be prepared for how bad it’s going to get and if you start something, you need to stick with it. Don’t get involved at all if you can’t handle it.” Sonya insisted, as her eyes filled with tears.

“It’s never that simple and frankly,” Eddie’s eyes widened in surprise and he chuckled for a moment before his tone became serious. “That is a messed-up way to think about something like this.”

“Excuse me?” Sonya whispered under her breath.

“You heard me.” Eddie responded through gritted teeth. “You have no idea what you can or can’t handle until you are IN that situation. You might be able to cope but someone else… they might want to help but that doesn’t mean they can without hurting themselves in the process. Your friend won’t get anywhere if you break yourself trying to help her.”

“I’ve been there and…”

“…So, have I!” Eddie cut her off, leaning in so he was looking her directly in the eye and spoke softly, almost in a whisper. “Watching somebody tear themselves apart for you doesn’t help. It’s just something else you have to live with. Something else you have to blame yourself for.”

“And having someone who said they were going to help you walk away doesn’t help either. It sets you back and if you’re at your worst – you are left alone without any way to get your head back above water.” Sonya’s voice broke up and she looked to the side as her lips trembled and she started to cry.

Recognising she was upset and concerned he went too far, Eddie attempted to respond and edged closer to Sonya before his watch started beeping. He took a step back, shaking his head as he walked off, leaving Sonya alone and in tears as he left The Waterhole. He headed back to his room and opened his bag, taking out three bottles and emptying one pill from each of them into his hand and swallowed them.

-*-

“Leo…” Shane called out, approaching Leo as he staggered into The Waterhole and tried to keep himself standing upright. “You alright, mate?”

Leo nodded halfheartedly, looking around in a daze which he tried to shake off. “Um… you called?”

“Ah… Yeah.”

“Is everything okay?” Leo asked concerned.

“I’m not sure. I, um…” Shane said softly. “I think I messed up.”

Leo leaned back and whispered. “Here?”

“No. With you, kind of.” Shane gestured at Leo as he tilted his head. “You see… this guy came in here looking for you and… well, I’d just had an argument with Sonya and I wasn’t really paying attention and…” He cleared his throat uncomfortably. “I told him where to find you and basically who your family was and I thought you should know. You know, just to be on the safe side.”

“Who was he?” Leo whispered, gently shaking his head.

“I don’t know but he said you used to work together. He’s probably around somewhere. You can’t miss him – not with that tattoo and he’s really nosey too. Trust me. Someone’s gonna remember him.”

“Tattoo?” Leo asked, leaning in.

“Yeah, it was, um…” Shane squinted, trying to remember as he pointed to his neck with both hands. “It was like a red snake, maybe a cobra with a skull head.”

Leo’s eyes widened and his expression alternating between shock and confusion as his hands started to shake and he pointed to the left side of his neck and then dragged his finger along the front. “On the…the… the, um… the left side… side of his neck and going across?”

“Yeah. Kind of creepy actually. Not that I’m judging or anything but…” Shane stepped forward, concerned as Leo turned incredibly pale and stared directly at him, not blinking and barely breathing. “Are you alright?”

“Um… Sorry. I need to um…” Leo took a step back; his breathing rapidly increasing and he ran off.

Tuesday 2nd July 2013 2:41am

Leo rolled over in bed and onto his right side, extending his arm across the other side of the bed seconds before jolting awake and reaching over to turn on the light to find Eddie gone. He looked around in horror for a moment and then jumped out of bed, rushing over to open the bedroom door.

“EDDIE?”

Leo screamed, taking a step forward as he looked to the side and noticed that the front door was open and due to the storm outside, the wind was causing it to bang. He quickly ran back into the bedroom and got dressed before running out the front door and calling out to him.

“EDDIE? EDDIE?” Leo screamed loudly due to the intensity of the storm before whispering to himself. “Oh, God! Where is he?”

He ran all around the area, calling out to him as he bit his lips and his eyes were filled with panic and he continued until he reached the cliff, pausing in horror as he spotted Eddie’s jacket and ran as fast as he could towards the cliff edge.

Present Day

‘Eddie? He’s… He’s alive? That’s…’

Leo thought to himself, trying to make sense of what was going on as he slowly made his way through the complex until he reached Lassiters. He leaned against the wall close to the entrance as all those thoughts, that pain and the heartache came flooding back, until he became so distressed that his eyes teared up and his lips started to tremble. He spent years trying to forget that night, trying to find a way to push Eddie out of his mind but no matter what he did or how hard he tried, nothing ever worked. It was like the pain had imbedded itself in him to the point where he couldn’t get rid of it.There was no one to help him through it, no one to talk to about it. He was completely alone. Most of the people in his life didn’t even know he and Eddie had been in a relationship and the ones who did, were no longer in his life.  

He’d cut so many people out of his life because of Eddie. People he’d known and been friends with for years because of their behaviour towards him, treating him like he was just high maintenance and ignoring his struggles or seeing it as a joke. While trying to mask their ableism by throwing around words like ‘self-care’ and ‘doing what’s best for yourself’ which he knew was their way of telling him to dump Eddie and find himself someone who they deemed as worth caring about. Someone who Leo would be a boyfriend too instead of their carer. Everything they did just made him hate them more and they were gone, out of his life for good within a few days.

He was never under an illusion that their relationship was going to be an easy one. That their problems would consist of arguing about the right way to stack the dishwasher or how something should be cooked. He knew the reality of the situation from the beginning. Eddie’s mental health issues, his alcoholism and his trauma - it was always going to be hard. They were always going to have problems of some kind but he didn’t care. He loved him and was in it for the long haul. Nothing was going to change that, he just had to find a new way to deal with it. Even as time went on, his drinking got worse and he stopped taking his medication – those days, he just wanted it to stop. He didn’t know how to handle it or how to help him and there were days when it took its toll but nights were the worst.

A few days before he’d disappeared, Leo had come home from work later than usual because he’d been helping someone out when he walked into the house and found blood everywhere and no sign of Eddie. The walls were smeared in it and as he approached the bathroom, he noticed the handle was soaked. He tried the handle, finding the door locked and called out, only to hear as gasp from inside. He didn’t know what to do, he wanted to call the police or an ambulance but he was scared in case something even worse happened as a result. So he just sat next to the door in silence and waited for him to come out for hours. That was the last night he went out or even slept. He spent day and night drinking as much caffeine as possible and fighting to keep himself awake at all time. Worried that if he fell asleep, something would happen and it did. The night Eddie disappeared, he'd passed out from exhaustion in the late afternoon and when he woke up, Eddie was gone. He’d vanished and he thought he was dead.

The memories and his emotions were becoming overwhelming to the point where he didn’t know what to do next. All he knew was that he had to find Eddie, had to see him and talk to him and find out what happened and if he was alright. He had no idea where he was but decided to check Lassiters first before moving onto other locations. Wiping away the tears from his eyes, he walked in and directly over to the computer, checking and finding his name. ‘E. Daniels’ in room 165. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before heading towards the elevator and then to his room. He knocked softly on the door and then took several steps back to prepare himself. Eddie was sitting on the bed and looked up before standing up and making his way over to the door and opening it, to find Leo standing there, his eyes full of sadness and he gently smiled.

“Hi.” Leo whispered.

“Hi.” Eddie smiled, before taking a step to the side and opening the door further. “Do you want to come in?”

Leo nodded, walking in while playing with his hands and turned to face Eddie. “You look good. Beard suits you.”

Eddie laughed, looking down as he rubbed his beard. “Thanks.”

“How have you been? Are you okay?” Leo asked, softly.

“Yeah. I’m good.” Eddie smiled, walking over and sitting on the bed, looking up at Leo. “Actually, I’m… I’m great. I’ve, um… I stopped drinking.”

“Really?” Leo whispered, his eyes softened.

“Sober now… 14 months and I’m back on my meds. It’s still… you know, it’s pretty hard but I’m getting there and I’m seeing a psychologist too.”

“That’s great. I’m happy for you.”

“You know I… I forgot how good this feels actually. It’s… it’s like I’m alive again.” Eddie responded happily as Leo smiled at him, his eyes filled with joy as he leaned back and looked down.

Eddie’s smile faded and he looked at Leo with uncertainty. “I was expecting you to be more… angry.”

“I don’t know what to feel.” Leo responded sadly as his voice momentary broke up. “I’m just really glad you’re alive.”

Eddie smiled, softly as he looked at Leo, at the shadows under his bloodshot eyes as concern took over him. Leo’s white shirt was buttoned up unevenly and one side was hanging over his pants. His clothes looked like they’d been slept in and he reeked of alcohol.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah. Just a bit under the weather at the moment.”

Eddie whispered, unconvinced. “Right.” Before taking a deep breath and looking directly at Leo. “Well, you might want to have a shower and change your clothes if you’re going to spin that lie… you stink.” Eddie said harshly, looking away.

“Thanks.” Leo said unimpressed, before turning the conversation away from himself. “Why did you wait until now to come back?”  

Eddie looked up, startled and uncomfortable by the sudden change in conversation and shook his head, biting his lip as he looked down and spoke softly. “I guess… I thought it was best if I stayed away.”

“What?” Leo asked, his eyes widening in shock as he stepped forward.

“It was bad, Leo.”

“I know it was. I was there.”

“And you didn’t do anything.” Eddie said harshly, staring at Leo. “No matter how bad it got, you just…” He clenched his teeth together. “You didn’t leave.”

Leo whispered, confused. “How is that a bad thing?”

“Because I saw what it was doing to you even if you didn’t want to. Being around me wasn’t good for you.” Eddie said softly.

“You’re talking like it was always bad.” Leo leaned in closer, sadly. “Like we never had a single good day. It was just a couple of days, it would have passed. It always did.”

“No, it wouldn’t. It was different this time and those few moments of clarity showed me that.” Eddie stated as Leo shook his head in frustration. “I left because you were never going to. You would have stayed no matter what and I couldn’t let you do that.”

“I knew what I let myself in for. I wouldn’t have stayed if I didn’t want to and I wanted to because I – “

Leo said before a knock on the door, stopped him mid-sentence and he turned away from Eddie to regain his composure as Eddie stood up and walked to the door, opening it to find Paul standing there.

“Oh, hello.” Eddie leaned back, surprised.

“Hi.” Paul smiled, before looking down momentarily and taking a deep breath. “I just wanted to apologise.”

Eddie waved him off, shaking his head. “It’s not necessary.”

“What happened?” Leo asked, concerned, walking up and standing next to Eddie, looking at Paul.

“Leo?” Paul leaned back.

“It was nothing.” Eddie smiled at Paul before turning to look at Leo and whispering. “Don’t worry about it.”  

“What are you doing here?”

“Eddie and I, um… we worked together in Sydney.”

“Oh, right.” Paul’s demeanour changed drastically, looking at Eddie cautiously before taking a step towards Leo. “Are you okay? You still not feeling well?

“Yeah, no I’m, um… I’m fine. Just run down. You know, all the extra work.” Leo said as convincingly as possible, turning to look at Eddie huffed and shook his head, turning to face Paul.

“Oh, tell me about it.” Paul let out a sigh in frustration. “The staff spend more time gossiping about Brandon than actually doing any work. They just don’t shut up about him. How does one person manage to mess everything up so badly?”

Leo chuckled nervously, closing his eyes and looking down to take a deep breath, rubbing his forehead as Paul continued talking. He turned to the side and found himself face to face with Eddie who was watching and noticed his reaction to Brandon’s name, his eyes softening in either concern or disappointment and he broke eye with Leo and looked at Paul, smiling as he continued to talk.

“You know what I mean? Anyway, I’ve got to get back to work.”

Paul walked away and Eddie leaned forward, waiting until he was out of sight and then turning, leaning against the door and looking at Leo as he spoke softly.

“Leo... What have you done?

Leo looked up, unable to maintain his composure and his breathing rapidly increased, resulting in him running out of the room and down the hall as Eddie stepped forward.

“Leo?” Eddie called out after him before he looked down, shaking his head in concern.